Tag Archives: moms with cancer

Maturation


Yesterday was visiting day at my children’s camp. This is year number 4. I can tell you the difference between them this year and the years before was huge. Their whole demeanor was one of ease, and happiness and contentment. It was just so wonderful to be with them.

Frankly, in years past, In years past, I always enjoyed seeing them, but the day had a different feeling. The first hour was usually calming one of my kids down from the anxiety of us arriving. I mean talk about a bull in a china shop…We parents storm the camp much like they stormed the beach at Normandy all those years ago. We throw our stuff down, reserve our space for the day and then go charging to the bunks. (This does present a problem with twins, because my husband still haste part the car…but we work it out every year). I watch as parents push kids out of the way just so they can get to their won kids 1 or 2 seconds earlier than the next mom. I think Sasha Baron Cohen would have a field day using “visiting day” in one of his satires.

Anyway, even though visiting day was from 10-4…The 1st hour was getting the kids calm and the last 2 hours were spent calming them down for when we left… But this year my kids were totally different. More relaxed, more self assured, more, “go with the flow of the day”…and for the 1st time I have to say…Visiting Day wasn’t long enough. We talked and played and roamed around. It was just nice. and I thought why this could be?

Yes my children are getting older, and that is a big part of it. But I realized, they had “no worries” this year. As much of a relaxing summer it is for me, it is for my kids as well. Last year I had given Alissa’s bunk “THE CANCER MADE ME DO IT” bracelets.When I arrived this year many of the girls were still wearing them…which was lovely . Many told me how happy they were that all was okay now.

Later I ran into an old friend (really an old Boss…but he was a really good boss so I considered him both). And he new about my year last year, and asked me about the blog and about the foundation. I was touched that he knew all theta was going on. Throughout the day I ran into women who are parents of campers who asked about the blog and the foundation…and they were also followers…also very cool. Later the kids and I were sitting and talking. I mentioned how nice it was that people asked how I was doing…my son Matt said something that struck me to the core.

Mom we told everyone last year how hard you tried to make things seem okay…This year you are okay and things are easier…Their are other kids in camp who has someone in their family going through cancer now…and a few have come to us and asked questions. I tell them what you always told us…There are some bad days but mostly the days are really okay…and honestly, have family and friends who love me…makes everything sealable….

He said it in such a way that I was stunned at how grown-up he sounded. I was so proud to hear them talk about it this way…At the end of the day, the good-byes were tearless, but still warm and loving…They both were glad for the day, and look forward to coming home in 4 weeks. But are filled with happiness to stay at camp and “play” with their friends for 4 weeks. They are in a great place, and spend their days laughing and loving life…and this year not fearing what is going on with their Mommy.

Cancer is a disease that does more damage than you can imagine. Their are many, many great charities that are working hard to find a cure…It is the day to day issues that I chose to focus on though…the family, the kids and how it affects them is what made me want start this foundation. We can help each other get through it…Cancer is still a growing problem. My illness made my kids mature a little quicker than they might have (and trust me this is only in certain areas…I still can’t get hem to make a bed or clean a room). But all in all, Maturation is good.

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Filed under a day in the life, breast cancer blog, cancer - self esteem, cancer blog, Cancer Day to Day, cancer has a silver lining, Chemo Therapy, Facing Cancer with Humor, living beyond breast cancer, Mindy Grossman, strong women of westchester, the cancer made me do it

Now I have gone and done it!



Alright it is official, I have submitted my first article for consideration in the NY Times! YIKES! They probably won’t pick it anyway, but as they say at the Oscars “It’s an honor just being nominated.” In this case, it is enough for them to even consider my article. Nobody I grew up with would have ever pegged me for a writer – EGADS!

I finished the editing process this afternoon — I had written the piece 3 weeks ago. And after getting some “editing” help. I nipped and tucked it into its final form. And then I read it, and read it again, and just to be sure…I read it 1 more time. Cause all of you know “SPELLIN’ AND GRAMMAR AIN’T MY THANG!” But I thought for the NY Times, I should try to do my very best. I am actually scared to go back and read it again, for fear (now that I have submitted it) I made a silly error….Anyway, I sat at my computer with my finger floating over the “enter” key which would send it soar through cyberspace. Should I do this? Why do I want to do this? Screw it! I am doing this…and

Well, I will not hear for a few weeks; I find solace in that somehow! And then if it doesn’t make the paper…atleast I have a future blog written!

I have got my fingers and toes crossed!

Enjoy today!

Carol

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A River in Egypt!


This weekend, we had an unexpected and unprecedented October storm. It caused untold damage on houses and power lines. Hundred’s of thousands we’re without power. Mother Nature came to remind use of the kind of power she has. Driving down the streets you now see piles and piles of downed tree limbs. These help us remember what happened — and these signs of damage are hard to avoid. Sometimes the damage isn’t always so visible.

How is it really possible to avoid a brick wall when you are traveling straight for it at 90 miles an hour? Well. you can pretend it isn’t there…or at least that is what I do. Lately a heap of praise has been showered upon me…and please believe me I am truly humbled by it. Many have told me how brave I have been through this whole ordeal. And in spending sometime reflecting on my past six months, I wonder if my supposed brevity isn’t just a fancy form of denial.

Today I was asked if I remembered how I felt when I was in college — when I was diagnosed and how I felt being there without any family (and. yes, even friends). My answer, “I don’t remember. Face it I was a 20 year old college kids. I am sure I thought I was invincible – even if the Dr.’s showed concern. I guess i was just a dumb kid. Certain things I remember, like the day I lost my hair! But those memories are few and far between.” But this can’t be true, because every time the subject comes up all I want to do is move on to another subject.

Then I was asked how I felt about this last diagnosis, “now that it is in the past.” The answer is very similar (obviously not the part about being young). I don’t remember much. I remember how certain events surrounding my diagnosis and treatment made me feel, but nothing really, in depth, about the actual treatment and diagnosis itself. Again I can remember events related to certain days and treatments. For example, I can remember agonizing for a week on how to tell my friends. Poor Elaine got the good news first. I hated having to tell her first, for so many reasons, but I needed her help (not easy for me to admit). Then I told my parents. I remember how upset I was for my parents to have to hear the news, because they had already been through enough. I felt bad that I had to tell my brother’s — and made them be with me when I told my parents. I spent much time worrying about how everyone else would handle it, that I was able to avoid worrying about how I would handle this. And if I didn’t think about it, each day would just ‘happen’ and I wouldn’t have to face the “Hail storm” that I was living through. But it seems this unexpected winter storm has somehow unearthed some ground shaking feelings with in me – feelings I am having trouble avoiding.

Now that I am done, I am trying to get a handle on what I have just been through; and it is proving to be overwhelming at times. I can sometimes feel like my body and psyche has just been hit with an unexpected October Storm. I keep hearing that old saying…”You have to take the good with the bad.” Well I am here to state that I am pretty full up of bad, SO BRING ON THE GOOD.”

I am not turning to the dark side. No I am not becoming a Debbie Downer. Not me! But the truth is…even the strongest of us, and even those of us that are always there for others with a “stiff upper lip” can just accept what has happened. I just can’t avoid it anymore, because it takes to much energy avoiding the facts – I accept them and I’LL DEAL WITH THEM.

So Denial is, once again, a river in Egypt.

Enjoy the day!

Carol

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Filed under a day in the life, a day in the life of a cancer patient, Birdies for Breast Cancer, Cancer Day to Day, cancer has a silver lining, Carol Abramson - Funny Cancer Mom, Chemo Therapy, coping with breast cancer

From Start to Finish!


As I get closer to the end, I find reason to look back at the journey. One that I feel is compelling, and I will tell you why: Aside from the fact that it spans 3 decades. It is the ultimate story of hope, family and laughter and beating the odds…TWICE. Recently I went to meet with a friend of a friend who was just starting her treatment (at the same place I get mine). She had a friend with her, and she asked me to tell her my story…So I did. The I realized, that I have never really told it all at once before. I have referred to it in my blogs, but never in a linear fashion. I realized, now that I am coming to the end…telling the story from start to finish is good. And of course next week I can write about the happy “movie” ending..

The back-story is short; in 1982, as a senior at BU, I was diagnosed with Hodgkins disease – stage 2A. In a span of 3 days (a week before thanksgiving break) I went from BU’s School infirmary to being scheduled for a Biopsy and tumor dissection (in Boston). After recouping at home in NY for 1 week, I returned to Boston to learn that I had cancer. After another surgery and an 8 day hospital stay, I had to decide on how to go forward with my treatment. While my diagnosis would have put most college careers on hold, I chose to finish out my year, and have my radiation treatments in Boston. My mom had enough on her plate; her mom was ill and my parents had just started a new business. Even though I didn’t have family with me in Boston…I knew if I left I would never return to college.

Granted I had no real support system in Boston (BU students were superficial group) and once word got out – I became less popular than a leper. Every day I left my dorm room at 6 a.m. and fought through the cold weather and elements of the “Combat Zone” to make it to treatment. Cobalt and Liniac radiation treatments 5 days a week for 4 weeks with 1 week break then another round of 4 weeks. I was Bald, stick thin, and nauseas for all of it! But I have no regrets, cause 29 years later I was still cancer free…and while I have encountered many of the known side affects to Cobalt Radiation (hypothyroidism, colitis, mitro-valve prolapse, infertility) I was still thankful….

Skip to October of 2010, after a few routine dental exams, my Mom was diagnosed with Squarmous Cell Carcinoma of the Right Hard Palette – Mouth Cancer. In December she under went a surgery that was very invasive and we were warned to “not expect too much.” After the partial removal of her jaw bone and the removal of her hard palette, she is doing UNBELIEVABLY WELL – her spirit and recuperative powers have stunned her Doctors…She truly is a real life wonder woman. We still had to face 30 days of radiation – but we had already faced the worst – so we were good to go.

January of 2011, we went to meet with my Mom’s future radiologist (another wonder woman) Dr. Randy Stevens. During this initial consult Dr. Stevens talked with my mom as a person, not a patient. She gave her in-depth information into the treatment, side affects, kinds of radiation used – at which time my mom offered up that we were familiar with radiation treatment and told her of my history…

After Dr. Stevens was done explaining everything to my mom (and we had asked all of our questions) Dr. Stevens turned her attention to me. She wanted to know how (and if) I follow up on my disease and if I know to watch for certain things due to the Cobalt Radiation I received. Years ago I learned that Cobalt radiation is no longer used because of all the awful side affects it causes – and that these side affects usually don’t show up for many years. I told I already had many side affects, and I am good about keeping up to date with all of my screenings. The only one I was behind on was my Mammogram and Ultra-sound. (They were originally scheduled for while my mom was in the hospital so I was running a few months behind.) Anyway she asked that I get that scheduled as quickly as possible, because you can never be to careful and, yes, Breast Cancer is also a side affect of Cobalt radiation.

My mom started her treatments in February and I scheduled my mammogram and ultra-sound. Valentine’s day I thought was a good day for that – or maybe not. My appointment was scheduled for 9 a.m. I was home by 10:30 and on the phone with a Dr. at 11 – telling me they found something suspicious on the ultra-sound. One week later I had a biopsy, and was notified within 24 hours that the lump was malignant.

With my mother in treatment (and caring for my father who has advanced parkinson’s. Once again, my mom had enough on her plate to deal with – So I kept my diagnosis to myself as long as possible; a month to be exact. I informed a few very close friends, and they were amazing. They went to appointments with me, helped me get everything scheduled and figured out a plane of action, so by the time I did tell my family – I would have everything all figured out.

In meeting with Doctors, I found out my lump was rather small – 1.6 mm. I was Her2 and ER positive (that is good), My Bracca tests were negative; and later I learned my Onca Types were low grey area range. This was the best way to get this disease. For most it would be – Lumpectomy, Radiation and done — But not so for me. Cobalt had robbed me of choices. After meeting with several specialists I learned that because of the Cobalt, radiation of any kind is off the table. Which means a Lumpectomy is off the table – which means…YES Mastectomy (and a double since I was so likely to get it in the other breast as well. And since I can’t do radiation – Chemo was the recommended course of treatment..

After telling my family – I knew I had to tell the rest of my friends – but I couldn’t bare telling the story over and over, so on May 3rd a blog was born. THE CANCER MADE ME DO IT (thecancermademedoit.com) documents my journey in a light-hearted and up beat manner. It highlights the good that has come out of all this…and yes there is enough good to write 32 posts so far. In this past year I have been swaddled with friendship, love and support from those close and those I didn’t even know and have been deeply touched by it. The cancer damaged my body…but the experience has healed my sole. And every day I count my blessings. I am so thankful for all that I do have – and yes even the cancer. For I believe that all of this has made me a better person…not a bitter one.

I am thankful to be alive, thankful to have an unbelievably supportive and loving husband, and thankful for the exceptional children we have (especially after the Doctors told me it would be extremely difficult to conceive). I met Scott in 1997, and he has always been my rock. Since October, he has been my constant cheerleader (and if you knew him you’d know he doesn’t exactly exude “perky” energy). He often finds ways to tell me how inspirational I am – to him, our kids and anyone who reads my blogs.

My twins are 11 now, and they, too, are just amazing. They have faced a lot in 11 years: Matthew was legally deaf until he was 4 1/2, which was almost fully corrected by simple surgery – and excluding some minor learning delays, he has rebounded at exponential proportions; At 7 they faced the death of their grandma (multiple myeloma); at 8 and 10 they dealt with the deaths of our best friends (and frankly 2nd parents to our kids) both to different forms of cancer; and then recently Matt and Alissa had to watch my mother and my friends suffer through their cancer surgeries and/or treatments, which were debilitating & harsh; they visit and watch their grandfather deteriorate from advanced Parkinson’s disease and, of course they see me on good days and bad ones. With all this, Alissa and Matthew have retained their positive and giving outlook on life. I often write blogs about how inspirational they have been to me through this whole ordeal. Scott, Matthew and Alissa have even motivated me to start a charitable foundation (THE CNCER MADE ME DO IT) that will raise money to be divided between 6 organizations: The Susan G. Komen Foundation, THANC, The Michael J. Fox Foundation, The Multiple Myeloma Foundation (MMRF), The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, Birdies for Breast Cancer and The Ashikari Breast Center. My kids have rallied their friends to work on ideas for an event for their Mitzvah project. So you can see why I am thankful and why I consider myself blessed.

All this leads up to the kicker…As many of you know this Sunday (September 18th) I turn 50 years old. On that same day is the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure in NYC – it is the ultimate in birthday celebrations. To be surrounded by my friends, family and thousands who sharre my battle will the best gift I can ask for. I will walk proudly to raise money to find a cure once and for all. For me I get the added bonus of knowing that on SPETMENBER 19TH I will receive my FINAL chemo treatment. I will end my treatment with the way it began. Happy, upbeat, and willing to face any challenge the world throws at me.

So Cancer — BEAT THAT!!!!

Enjoy Every Day and especially Today!

Carol

@funnycancermom

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Filed under a day in the life of a cancer patient, Ashikari Breast Center, Birdies for Breast Cancer, breast cancer, cancer has a silver lining, Cancer Vixen, Carol Abramson - Funny Cancer Mom, coping with breast cancer, Cristie Kerr, Susan G. Komen NYC Race for the Cure September 18

FRIENDS, FRIENDS, FRIENDS



On Monday I go for treatment number 6. Which means I only have 2 left after this one. I can’t believe it. My friend Amy is taking me — she actually took a day off from work to do that. I can’t tell you how lovely that is. My friends have been so great. I know I have talked about how much they have done for me through this and when my mom was sick…let’s face it — they have just always been there. My mom is my rock and always will be, but I am blessed to have so much more.

Last night I had dinner with 5 AMAZING HUMAN BEINGS (yes one is my husband). These other 4 are undefinable by words; the problem is that the word “Friends” doesn’t do them justice – they are more than that — they are heroes to me. (So maybe I should call them my Frioes or my Heriends) Anyway, they are part of a core group of individuals who I feel pump the life into me – even when they are not around me. We can laugh and talk about anything. We can share every part of our lives with each other and know that their is “unconditional support, understanding, empathy, joy, laughter, and/or silliness…what ever is needed – (whether Emily Post thinks it is apprpriate or not)!” The feeling of security that brings is unmatched. And it helps me to get through every part of this “glitch” in my life.

Friends are a celebrated part of life. Think of all the incredible songs that are devoted to them.

James Taylor YOU’VE GOT A FRIEND
Andrew Gold — THANK YOU FOR BEING A FRIEND
Bill Withers LEAN ON ME
Dionne Warwick THAT’S WHAT FRIENDS ARE FOR
Bette Middler THE WINGS BENEATH MY WINGS
Bette Middler YOU’VE GOT TO HAVE FRIENDS
The Pretenders I’LL STAND BY YOU

And these are just to name a few.

Often I find myself wondering “How the hell have I gotten so lucky as to have such amazing people in my life.” Cancer has tried to beat me down twice — and I haven’t allowed it. Not that there is ever a good time to get cancer, but each time I have gotten it, it has has been during times when either my body and/or my spirit were pretty low. And still the disease has not gotten the better of me — Why? I am neither rich, nor powerful (by “americana standards”). I am neither famous, nor infamous (by any standards). I realized that the power I have is an unshakeable and amazing support system.

And as I laughed, and eat and enjoyed last night, I realized that life doesn’t get any better than this…Cancer or not I am blessed with what I got…So “Cancer” BEAT THAT!

Enjoy Today!
Carol

@funnycancermom

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HEAT


We have had record temperatures for the las few days, and it got me to think about the heat.

We have heard about heat indexes and actual heat versus “feels Like” heat, heat stroke, heat related illnesses, record heat, and scorching heat…

Heat is funny because when you have it (or rather to much of it) it you want it less, and when you don’t have it you want it more.

During the winter you seek the heat while simultaneously wishing summer would arrive quick.

During a summer heat wave you wish the heat would break, while simultaneously wishing for the cooler temps of a beautiful fall day.

If you are a Pitcher all you want to do is bring the heat, and strike the batter out.

And if you are a Miami resident the Heat can be a blessing and a curse – depending on whether you are talking climate or sports.

If you are a criminal you have to avoid the Heat;

And if you want to stand up for a mistake that you may have made you have to take the heat!

If you in back, neck, or knee pain you seek a pad of heat,

and to bring life back to a frozen Lasagna you need to re-Heat.

People who live in Arizona don’t mind it because they say it is “dry-heat”

But my treatments haven’t been so nice lately, and I feel like I am running a dead heat to beat the side affects, and not always winning. The fevers and chill this week weren’t the greatest, but just like all good things – even a heat wave, it comes to an end, and this morning I woke up felling like myself again!

So like most of us I am staying inside — I am just trying to beat the heat.

And may cooler heads prevail.

Stay cool and enjoy

Carol

@funnycancermom

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Re-Tell Therapy


As is obvious from my posts, I AM A TALKER. A trait that can sometimes (okay often) drive my family crazy. I like to talk out and talk about all situations, because the more I talk about it, the more alternate viewpoints become clearer. I admit that I can over talk about an event as well, but that is me…”take it or leave it”. I also talk the situations over with my friends — re-tell the story if you will. Now, some people re-tell situations to “correct the spin” on it: you know to try to improve upon the “why I am right” scenario. That is not to say they are lying, it is just that they have their own belief’s on why a “situation” played out the way it did. I re-tell situations so that I can learn from them. And yes, there are times that I still feel that my answer (reaction) was the correct one; but not without exhausting every other perspective. My friends are very helpful with this. I use them as a sounding board. I tell them what happened; or what I saw; or my opinion of an interaction between to other individuals. In return, they give me wise and unbiased opinions as to whether I responded correctly, or I read the situation correctly, or even if I should (or shouldn’t) have intervened. And when I do this, I find that even my friends varied viewpoints, I get a greater understanding of the events that occurred, why I ‘read” the events a certain way, and if my response was handled correctly or not. So by re-telling an event, I get the whole picture…and from that I am able to make my next move.

In fairness to my husband, I admit that this procedure can cause me to misread or over analyze things (only sometimes). It happens less than he is willing to admit. But it does happen. As an example, this is my children’s 3rd summer at sleep away camp. As many know, camps post pictures nightly so you can get a brief glimpse of your child’s day. The first summer, another mother told me how to “analyze the pictures”. Absolutely an absurd thing to do, by the way…but, of course, the idea was in my head — every once in a while I would succumb to the idea. Ridiculous suggestions like; if “she/he is in the middle of the group shot they are happy – and if they are on the outside they are not.” “If she/he has their arm around someone, but the other doesn’t have their arm around him or her it is a forced picture.” ABSOLUTE BOLOGNA!!!! And I listened to it – the first summer anyway. But when the kids came home I showed them some of the pictures, and asked what was going on…the kids painted much different scenario’s. Proof that this idea of analyzing doesn’t work.

Even knowing that this analyzing pictures is wrong, this week I found myself doing it again. But this time my fears/analyzing are based strictly on my own neuroses. My children have handled my illness with the grace and maturity of well adjusted adults — not 11 year old kids. And I am so very proud of them. The fact that they have dealt with so much “death and illness” in their short lives consistently brings tears to my eyes. But on the reverse side, they have learned so much from it all; and these experiences have helped to shape their tremendously warm hearted , sensitive, and wonderful personalities. So there has been a positive outcome to it as well. But I worry that their strong shell may crack, so when I don’t see them in pictures, or in the groups my thoughts begin to shoot off in tangents. And then I begin to use my re-tell therapy strategies to come back to center.

First I tell my husband my thoughts. And like any good husband he just tells me, “I am being crazy.” I love that about men — right to the heart of the matter they are. Then my friends – who each tell me in their own ways. “that I am probably just a little over sensitive this year — and make lite-hearted jokes that the kids have left camp for a much needed vacation. One even suggested they are not in the pictures, because they are the new camp photographer. By the time I have re-told the story for the 5th time (yes that includes my husband), I realize how ridiculous I sound…and I am back to realizing that these pictures are just a snippet of their day — and to just enjoy seeing them.

Ok well now that I am done with that re-tell therapy….maybe I should try the other Retail Therapy. Shopping is good for the “sole” they say — shoes anyone?

Have a great day and ENJOY!

Carol
@funnycancermom
and at
http://www.riverjournalonline.com

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SUMMERTIME — HIP HIP HURRAY!


It is officially over. The school year that is. The last few weeks have been so overloaded with end of the year activities, studying with the kids for finals, packing the kids trunks for camp, and seeing family before the kids leave for summer camp. I haven’t had a moment to think what I am going to do all summer. No children to deal with for 7 weeks and one day. Trust me that one day is very important.

It wasn’t until the end of my first child free summer that I realized all of the benefits: Laundry being really high on the list. With 2 active kids I can do about 12 to 14 loads of laundry a week. Unbelievable, but true. But I don’t think I do 12 to 14 loads in 7 weeks – while they are gone.

During the school year I cook 3 meals (often 4 due to my picky eater) a day. During the summer my husband and I enjoy date nights out 3 to 4 nights a week. And I can catch up on all of the movies I want to see.

Don’t get me wrong I miss the kids. But I was a camper as a child, and it was one of my happiest experience. So I get excited that my children seem to love it as much as I do. Really, what’s not to love – it is a 24/7 playdate that lasts for 7 weeks; for them and for me. I get up each morning and write them a letter – retelling events of the day before in great detail. Mainly to add length to the letter. Otherwise the letter would say:

Hi: relaxed all day yesterday, will write tomorrow. love Mom

My ‘Alone’ time this summer will allow me to do a lot of things. I while try (but may not succeed) at completing half of my laundry list of things to do this summer. I am going to make a really strong effort. Probably stronger than I have in the past. (okay you caught me — I started this laundry list the 1st summer the kids went away. So far I have only done 2 things on the list) I am not organized and need real help in this are….I invite any suggestions from all of you….but my list includes cleaning out the garage, organizing my downstairs closet, cleaning out the kids closets, and re-organizing the kitchen cabinets. I know what your saying — “Carol, it is summertime…it’s time to come out of the closet.” But that is where the work needs to be done. Mainly because that is where I hide everything all year.

My alone time will also allow me to reflect on my circumstances. And not in a negative way. Since I was diagnosed, I have started this Blog — which thanks to you has over 3,200 hits! I have been interviewed for an article in the River Journal (a Westchester Monthly Magazine) that will come out on Thursday. (I can’t wait to see it!) And I was recently interviewed On Camera for a reality show about women with cancer, who are going through chemo. My friend Wendy was the person who told me about the show. While I am not sure that I am the “kind of contestant” they are looking for…It was a “really fun and cool experience.” And, I have some other positive things in the works as well…but this is for me to reveal in the future. As odd as it may sound…Life is good! The cancer and the treatment still suck, but they are here only temporary, and I believe these good things are just the beginning.

All of a sudden I feel like I am back at camp, where everyday, something fun is happening. And while most people don’t think cleaning out closets or cleaning out garages is fun…It is when you know realize about what other alternatives you can be facing. And, yes, every once in a while (actually, every 3 weeks in my porotocol) there will be a rainy day — we all know what follows summer rains — RAINBOWS. And the pot of gold at the end comes in September when I end treatment….And happily turn 50 (okay that is a lie – but go with it!) Because from that moment on I look forward and joyfully towards the next 30 (atleast!).

Enjoy today!

Carol
@funnycancermom

I hope you will check out my article thursday at http://www.riverjournalonline.com

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THE SOUNDS OF SILENCE!


It seems that my daily schedule has been altered by my chemo treatments. My internal schedule that is. I used to wake up around 6:45 a.m. And get in bed around 11:00 p.m.. Now I find that I am usually fully awake by 5:45 a.m. And passed out by 9 p.m. At first this time shift was like any other “jet lag” scenario. It definitely took me a few days to get my “footing”. And I mean that literally as
well as figuratively. At 5:45 my house is pitch black; so the first few mornings I found myself stumbling around, constantly banging my toes against something or walking into some wall I couldn’t see. My house is definitely seems smaller in the dark, or I am just messier than I think (both very possible). Several mornings in a row I found myself standing in my closet trying to stifle my scream from the pain from stubbing my toe on a pair of shoes or the foot of the armoire, or just tripping over the clothes I left on the closet floor. After the pain subsides, I would make my way to the bathroom or downstairs. I was up like a pup!. Awake in an absolutely silent household. Frankly, not an experience I was used to.

What does someone do in the morning; Before the kids are up or my husband is awake – before the the general noise of daily life begins? I sat silently to ponder. And there it was again. Silence!. I wanted to scream with joy- but that would break it – the silence that is.

So, instead I thought I should figure a way to try and use the time wisely. I sit and think; think about what is, what was, and what can be! And realize “Wow I sound really profound at 6 a.m.!. Ok Obi wan!” I think, “what else could I be at 6 a.m.” I look around my living room, and think that I could go through that stack of papers sitting on the dining room table – or at least organize them. Nah! That’s quick work I can do that later. Oh, I could empty the dishwasher!. No way, the clanging of the plates would surely wake up the house. I could organize and pay the bills. Do I even need to say why that is a No!. Or I could just sit here with my feet up, stare about the room and write my thoughts down!. BINGO!. A perfect morning activity. This will get the mind flowing, and keep my body stationary in order to fully accept the affects of the caffeine entering it from that oversized morning cup of joe!. I can ruminate upon the day to come, and try to envision how I will fit in all the things I need to do; or how I can ignore them and do the things I want to do.

Wow, my head is spinning from all this thinking, maybe I should just go bed for a few hours? Let me think about that! It’s 7 a .m. Enough thinking! Now doing!

Enjoy the day! And make everyone count!

Carol
@funnycancermom

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It’s My Treat! (Ment)


Me and my IV pole - I call him Henry

Today was treatment number 3! Yeah! I am almost halfway done. Wow where does the time go, it was just yesterday I wasn’t even scheduled for Chemo…Good Times! Good Times!..

Seriously though, I don’t think I have walked you through my treatments, and today is as good a day as any. I usually arrive at around 9 a.m. So far my friends Elaine, Meredith, Julie and my Mom have been my companions. I try to warn them before hand that they may see things that aren’t the happiest or easiest to take…But really the worst they have seen so far isn’t the patients, it is the fat hanging over the top of my jeans. And while you may not think that so bad — trust me I am often reduced to tears when seeing my own horror of blubber, so could you imagine how bad it is if it isn’t your own muffin top! Yikes.

I am usually greeted first by my nurse Nancy. She is a beautiful and funny woman. With a smile that really lights up any room. Her red hair and blue eyes make me believe that she has an Irish or Scottish background. The fact that she can sometimes speak with this sweet rhythmic Brogue – could also suggest that. But her humor always puts me immediately at ease. Even though it is her job to put me on a scale every time I am there. After the blood pressure and a few questions my Dr. comes in — Also a Nancy — coincidence…I think Not.

Dr. Nancy is a far more demure person by appearance; which is deceiving, because she too has a great sense of humor. She asks me questions about my last few weeks, does a few blood tests, answers any questions I have, re-states some rules (ones that I know but she so rightly knows I am ignoring), and sends me off for treatment. Like any regular Dr.’s appointment so far.

When I go upstairs to the treatment room, first you walk into a reception area to check in. It gives the nurses time to put in my cocktail order. And no I don’t mean my Cosmo. Though, wouldn’t that take the edge off. They mix up my drugs as I arrive, so everything is fresh. It is like a farmers market for chemicals in a way. Anyway, while we wait we get to watch this tropical fish tank. Filled with 3 fish and a big reef. Goldy – the big puffer fish, was being tortured today by a little blue “Dory” fish, and a Nemo. Meredith, Elaine and decided to speak (and use accents) that depict how we think the fish would sound (of course if they could talk) This activity kept us quite amused for the 10 minutes we waited. I even got a picture of Goldy, the bullied fish, and his attacker.

Goly (the big one) and the Bully

After our wait was over we entered the treatment room. I was lucky to secure the same spot. It is a corner chair with a lovely view of the Hudson River. The room itself, in decoration, temperature, and vibe, is cold. That is definitely something they should work on! Not that it needs to feel like a party room, but it should be a little warmer in feel anyway — more inviting. Cause frankly no one is coming there unless asked to —

After I sit, the nurse brings over my 1st infusion and pills to get me started. In all honesty, putting the IV in and taking it out is the worst part for me. It seems so trivial but it is these two acts that bother me the most. Luckily Henry, my IV pole, is with me every step of the way…even if I have to go to the bathroom. He can be a little smothering at times, never leaves me alone :). After the IV is in it is really a cake walk. I get chilly, but they supply me with heated blankets. I feel every home should be equipped with a blanket warmer — the moment a warm blanket is draped on me, I forget everything for a few moments! And that isn’t the chemo talking.

The first drip is just to hydrate me, and I will say that I feel a little lift from it. After about 1/2 hour they push in 2 different medicines into the IV. First the Methotrexate – which I don’t even notice. The second is Fluorouacil (or 5FU). The F.U. part is appropriate. While they push this into the IV I get the weirdest sensation – pins and needles in my nose, over my eyebrows and on top of my head. Kind of like a Wasabi headache. Then the final drug is a 30 minute drip. This is cyclophosphamide. Also rather inert as far as side affects go. Then the hydration continues for 30 more minutes and I am good to go.

I definitely get a little tired for a few hours, but the steroids that I took, when I first get in the chair, begin to kick in. They won’t wear off for a few days so I will skate along until then. I am presently packing my kids for sleep away camp, and that is way more torture than the Chemo. The packing that is, not the sending them to camp. The bags leave Saturday, so I need to get a move on. Frankly the steroids have me hyper enough that I may work through the night.

Timing is everything! And with only 5 times left to go, who knows what I can accomplish next time!

Talk to you soon

Carol
@funnycancermom

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Winning the Lottery!


I saw this commercial this morning and it reminded me of an email Scott and I got Sunday evening from the NY STate Lottery. It said that we had won a prize. An email I thought, could we must have won the big prize. All of a sudden my mind was a flutter with the possibilities. See I have a lottery subscription. Years ago I picked numbers and they are played weekly, and I pay for this service up front. This way I never have to remember to buy a ticket (and now that my memory is severely flaky, this is a good thing to have). Honestly, I very rarely win anything, so when I got the email I was a little skeptical. I know, if I do’t win, why do I play? Ya gotta be in it to win it!

I went on to the NY Lottery website and started seeing the numbers meant anything to me. My birthday, The kids birthday, Our anniversary, something. Nothing! Was it one of the quick pick numbers I picked. I began to search the house for where I put that piece of paper wit the numbers on it. That was an exercise in futility. I hid that paper 5 yrs ago. If I still have it it is lost in somewhere in the ordered chaos I call home! Scott and I started thinking about what we probably won. We probably won $5,000 or maybe even $10,000. Not the biggest prize, but maybe one of the these. It isn’t unheard of — my brother won $5,000 once, and we even know someone who won the Publishers Clearing House (they won it in the 80’s before we knew them). So maybe it is our turn.

Anyway, I couldn’t find the numbers, so scott and I were going to have to wait until the following morning. He called me when he got to work in the morning just to remind me to call (proof that my really isn’t at full capacity — cause Scott, on a good day, doesn’t have the memory that I used to have). I waited till 8:30 and called. I spoke to a lovely woman name Amy. I explained why I was calling, and gave her my full name and other identification, to verify who I was. She put me on hold for what seemed to be 5 minutes, but was just a few seconds.

“Mrs. Abramson” she said “I am happy to tell you that you have won $1.00, and that we will be crediting your account.” “1 Dollar”, I said “why would you notify me for $1?” “It is our new policy to notify subscription holders with any win at all.” What a let down, I thought. Now if I see an email from them I will think “Big whoop, I only won $1.”

Being rich must be fun. I am sure it has it’s down sides, but I can’t put my finger on what that would be. And of course then I thought…
I know that I say this in different ways through out all of my blogs, but I know I already won the lottery. Soon I will be “fully” healthy again, I have the greatest family and friends anyone could ever ask for or wish for, and all of you who follow my blog have been so supportive; and for that I am truly blessed. So that makes me a winner all the time — but their ain’t nothin’ wrong with cash either!

Below is the other new commercial from this company — admittedly I don’t really know what the product is, I jsut think the commercials are really funny about thinking your rich!” So I hope you all enjoy them — Good for a mid morning giggle.

Laugh a little with me today.

Carol
@funnycancermom

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I Want My MTV (or Cable TV)


Okay Bureaucracy frustrates me. I think even more so now than ever before. I mean no one likes empty, vapid answers, or talking to someone called Jim (whose name really isn’t Jim, and is probably answering the call from a room in India). Since May 12th, my Optimum Cable service has been unbelievably bad. And this is really a generous description of the service. Each TV screen freezes, and pixelates (Optimum’s word). Every time I call I have to go over the same exact story…again, and again, and again and again! It makes me want to rip the hair out of my head — oh wait, I don’t have any hair to do that with. Okay then I want to rip the hair out of the operator’s head…

Every operator tells me they must send a technician to my home. “Why?” I ask. “Because that is standard procedure.” says the Optimum operator. “Every time for the past 3 weeks I wait for a service man to come. He does, and then he tells me that the problem is outside the house and not inside the house. So do I really have to wait for the same serviceman to come back and tell me the same thing over again. Can’t you just send technicians to the outside of the house to fix the problem?” I say. (meanwhile thinking why can’t the guys that fix the inside lines, fix the outside lines as well?) “Yes, Ma’am!” Kevin the operator says (see now we are on a first name basis.) “We must follow protocol.” Kevin said. (I hoped Kevin was feeling my frustration — I could sense he was about to open up to me — give me his last name and a direct dial phone number. Then I would really believe I was getting somewhere and progress was being made). But, alas, first name, last initial and an operator ID number is all I got). The feeling of success had slipped through my fingers. I was just another customer, with the same old problem.

I was annoyed. This cable thing was becoming a real problem for me. Why? Well a few reasons. First, my husband was watching the NBA finals game 4…Dallas vs. Miami… My husband played college ball, and these games are like air to him. He needs to see them. (Mainly because he desperately wants to see Miami loose). So the pixilations on the screen is making him irritable and down right pissy. I can’t have that because, frankly, I get first dibs on being irritable and pissy.

The second reason is that I am packing my kids for camp; and the mind-numbly boring and mundane activity of labeling socks and underwear can only be lessened, somewhat, by watching HSN or Cake Boss on TV. And last but not least, I have called cable (and have had them here) 4 times already. If they don’t know how to fix it then don’t come — find someone that can fix it — what exactly do I pay the cable for? Especially since 2 or 3x a year they remove stations from their line up because cable feels the stations aren’t playing fair…oh Boo Hoo!

If I followed along that train of thought, I would walk around bitching and moaning that I have cancer; and wonder why the Dr.’s couldn’t just fix me the first time so I didn’t get it again. Or why the Dr.’s can’t just cure me with the first chemo treatment- instead of having to go 8 times. Why can’t they find something to cure the side affects from treatment instead having me call when a symptom arises. Why if my “situation” isn’t a “typical scenario”, do the Dr.’s feel in necessary to treat me “by the book”. No path of this disease for me has been by the book, and yet I am still going through the typical protocol! You don’t hear me bitchin’ do you?

Okay I get it, I guess I am bitchin’ a little, but I want my cable TV fixed already! I haver cancer damn it…I want something in return! Watching some housewives rip each other apart is the least (the very least) I deserve!

Enjoy!

Carol
@funnycancermom

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Life Lessons, revisited!


The Hat that sparked it all!


In January of 1983, I was walking down Commonwealth Avenue on the way to class. It was brutally cold. I was wearing my Navy peacoat, and on my head was, a Black fisherman’s cap. Not the most attractive look – actually quite mannish – But it was a cold morning, and just couldn’t deal with wearing my wig. So I made a choice. In the appearance conscious world of Boston University — I went Au Natrual! Not such a common look in the 19880’s. Prior to my illness, my choice of friends was not the socially conscious type. They were the “appearance conscious types”…and I am ashamed to admit that I was no better. It wasn’t until I had lost 20 lb. and my hair, that I realized how shallow and lame my viewpoint was.

I quickly learned that I was no longer welcome in my group of friends. It was a chilling lesson, like the winter Boston weather. As I walked to class that morning, walking towards me were two friends (I say loosely). R.F. and J.L. lived in Shelton Hall (Snob Central), just a few doors down from my dorm. So as I was heading towards the Management building, they were heading back towards their dorm room. I had already begun to feel the chill from my supposed friends, but this was the final freeze out. As they got within 5 ft I gave them a meek “hi”, smile, and wave. They turned to each other and R.F. said “Don’t look, thats the girl that’s dying.” I stopped dead in my tracks (no pun intended). I couldn’t believe it. Not only was I an outcast, but now I didn’t even get a name…just “That Girl”! And I was dying; which was certainly news to me! Well, it was an emotional day, but it taught me a lesson quick, and is a huge part of what drives me to always be positive. I believe my positive and hopeful outlook has a direct affect on how others treat me; and how I am able to stay positive day to day. I hoped I would never experience anything like that again. But I wasn’t so lucky.

I have been wearing hats a lot. I have this crunchy, straw cowboy that I love; which, honestly, my daughter hates it on me. But it is a mothers job to embarrass her child from time to time. Anyway, the other day I had to run an around in Scarsdale Village (a very affluent town and shopping area), and I chose to wear the hat (my daughter was not with me). It was lunchtime – a time when the town 1s flooded with high schoolers (decked out in their designer and school labels). As a group of 5 kids walked towards me (3 girls and 2 boys), one of the boys said to they others “Who does she think she is in that yokum hat, I would cringe if that was my mom.” And they all laughed. I stopped dead in my tracks…I had been here before. But the difference is who I am today versus who I was years ago! Slowly I turned…

The kids were standing on line outside of a popular deli. Their were plenty of kids around them, so I thought this is a good time for a teaching moment. I confronted the kids, and proudly said:

I am sorry, was your comment supposed to make me feel bad about myself? I think it had the opposite affect!” As I removed my hat, an audible gasp was heard from the girls. “You have you just insulted a women going through chemo therapy. Did insulting me make you feel like a big man, or better about yourself. Is it only my looks that caused you to try make me feel small about myself? Do you do that to kids in school that aren’t as good looking or as cool as you think you are? How do you feel about yourself now? Not so cool are ya? Maybe next time you will think about this before you pick on someone else!”

And with that I walked away. I was able to over hear 2 of the girls calling the boy a jerk, as they ran towards me to apologize. I believe (or I hope) at least they got the message. Like any good superhero I wanted to proudly put my hands on my hips and say “I think my job here is done!” But even for me that would just be to cheaky.

I do believe, that this is part of the reason I have started this blog…Even now, during my treatment, I believe being a cancer patient and survivor I have learned and grown so much as an individual. I am positive about that! In the end I am BETTER NOT BITTER. And rockin a groovy hat!

Hat’s off or today!

Carol
@funnycancermom

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Let’s Get Wiggy With it!


and the Winner is

Today was wig day. For so many reasons, it was a day I was secretly dreading. I wasn’t about to let my fears stop me, but they have been churning for a few days. I feel good, I am not having any terrible side affects; the worst being 1 night — and the hair loss of course!

It is interesting to me, however, that I am not finding this as absolutely horrific as I did the first time I went through it. The first time was so emotionally brutal that I can not even express it in words. My eyes usually close tightly, just at the thought of re-living it. But why does it seem different this time around? This, too, I have been thinking about this for a few days. I believe the answer to be more complex than just a simple “because I have been through it before.” This is not to negate the fact that this is a significant part of the reason. I believe the other pieces come from the “circumstances” surrounding my first experience as opposed to my situation now.

In 1982 I was 20 years old, I was a Senior at a very “jappy” university (please excuse the stereotyping of my male and female clan members); but physical and social appearances were of the utmost importance there. Cancer, Hodgkins Desease, was certainly not as common amongst my peers then, as Breast Cancer seems to be today. Really, is there anyone that doesn’t know someone who has or had Breast Cancer? So at BU, I became an automatic outcast. Fear made many worry that they could “catch” what I had. Luckily, I had a friend Nanette Stueck (I have been trying to locate her, but can’t remember her married name) who didn’t care about my ailment at all. She welcomed me in to her apartment, and life with nary a second glance or concern. Over Christmas break when 90% of Massachusetts heads on vacation, I had to remain in Boston for treatments. My family in NY, Nannette invited me to stay with her. It was there I lost my hair! I awoke one morning freezing. I couldn’t figure out why I kept feeling a draft. As I lifted my head from the pillow, I realized all the hair from the back of my head remained on the pillow. Over powered by tears, I sat and wept. I remember Nannette being a real comfort, but frankly mostly I just remember the hair loss. So being alone, away from family, and being an outcast only added to the traumatic nature of this side affect.

Now, my circumstances are different. My hair is coming out at a slower rate than the first time. Still in clumps, but not my whole head. Once again, the back of my head is the first area to disappear; with the top/front just thinning so far. The pace at which it is falling out, makes it easier to adjust to the change. It was very jarring when it came out at once, so the “molting” affect is a little easier to take.

The biggest difference between this experience and the last one, is having family and friends around. If you have a good support system, I believe you can conquer anything (or atleast 99% of things). My family and my friends have been with me every step of the way this time. They have embraced me, they have been a part of my healing and treatment, and they have given me unconditional acceptance during bad days (and good ones), hair days and none.

Today, at my most vulnerable, 2 of the incredible women in my “central support team” joined me for this Wiggy adventure. Julie and Meredith helped me to keep the experience light (again a weight reference, OY!). At Bitz and Pieces, a wig store in Manhattan, we meet Edwin. He was soft and gentle during the initial few minutes of assessment. He was trying to suss out just “what kind of patrons we would be”! Had he only known, he may have had someone else work with us. I wanted to try on all the big wigs for fun. Politely, he got down to business. But quickly he felt our light heartedness, and he loosened up. We joked about never having to wash or blow dry my hair, and how much time that would save me; how I can’t cook with the wig on, or grill with it on, or be near a dryer — on account of the fact that I picked a synthetic wig and it would melt! So I can just give upon those chores altogether.

The whole appointment took an hour. During which time I was able to smile, laugh and, dare I say, enjoy what could be (and was before) a tearful and awful experience. Julie and Meredith encourged me to try on some “fantasy styles”, as well as variations of how my hair has always been styled. For fun, I tried on Red hair a little longer and “Cynthia Nixonish”, and a black haired “Mia Farrow”, a Strawberry and blond Highlighted “Joan Jett” number, and a Black “Uma Thurman/Pulp Fiction” piece. It was fun. While none of these made the final selection, I actually enjoyed the process.

Kill Bill Look


The Flippy Dippy Blond

I enjoyed my selection enough to leave the store wearing it! Off we went to meet Elaine for lunch, she is another superhero in my unbeatable group of incredible women friends. She agreed that I made a great selection. Yeah!

My children came home from school with friends. I had honestly forgotten that I was still wearing the wig. My daughter Alissa immediately noticed. “Oh my god Mom is that your new wig? Yes,” I said cautiously worried about her reaction. “It is awesome, you better cut your hair like that when it comes back.” And without a second thought she and her friend went off to do their homework!

This ‘Hairrowing” experience turned out to be “exhilHAIRating” instead. That is a true relief.

Talk to you soon

Carol
@funnycancermom

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Can I fit it all in to my schedule?


I must be crazy. But I have spent my day trying to work my plans around my chemo. Well really I have been trying to work my chemo around my plans. I have been toying with the idea of going every two weeks, so that I would finish earlier. But that will mess how I will feel at “visiting day” at camp. Then I am surprising my daughter with tickets to see Glee at the Nassau Colleseum; and the two week schedule will mess that up as well. But the every 3 weeks would mess up the end of camp, when the kids get home. Scott was thinking about taking a week off so we could do stuff with the kids. But if I am not feeling well — what is the point. I mean, who knew Cancer could just screw up my schedule so much!

Just the scheduling alone is giving me a headache. Certain days I know I shouldn’t be driving, and certain days I can drive but have to go to sleep early, certain days I feel totally fine, and certain days I just shouldn’t get out of bed. Yesterday was my 2nd Treatment. Again, the actual treatment wasn’t so bad. I felt al little “schva” all day, as my friends say. Today I have been okay…actually starving! The steroids are still in my body so they keep me up, and hungry. I do believe I could join that Coney Island Hot Dog eating on contest if I were constantly on steroids. But as the day wears on I am beginning to lose steam. The energy of the morning has begun fade. Not terrible, and tonight I have to sit and watch my son’s Baseball game, which is a pretty sedentary event. (Honestly, to me watching baseball is like watching grass grow). But if my son misses a play, or strikes out, or has lots of errors when he pitches — I kringe for him. My motherly instinct kicks in. I just want him to do well. So I find when he is up at bat I become a religious women. Under my breath I am begging “please don’t miss, lease don’t strike out.” You think I would have done that when I learned I may have Cancer. We mom’s have some warped sense of priorities don’t we. Not that I would change it at all. I would rather focus on my children than on me – anytime. That is why scheduling this illness has to be done right :).

My children have been funny with my illness. Unfortunately they have know a lot of people with cancer. Some who did not survive. It has made them very mature about dealing with it. As my hair has begun to fall out, they ask if they can come with me “to get the buzz cut!” Since I am with Matt every time he gets one — he felt it only fair. Their humor has also helped them. A few weeks ago, when I didn’t feel well, I was sitting out on our back deck. Matt and Alissa came to the screen door to check in on me; I told them because I didn’t feel great that Dad would be in charge of helping them with homework, and religious school homework, and tennis practice for that evening. Matt and Alissa looked at each other, smashed their hands and faces against the screen door and mouthed “HELP ME!” It brought laughter to us all; and it made me feel that it is okay to tell them when I have good moments and bad ones. They, too, were able to find the funny in the moment.

They both have their subconscious signals that tell me they are scared or upset to see me feeling ill. Matt tends to need to be near me…really he needs to be connected to me. He will just spontaneously come up and wrap his arms around me and literally put his check to mine for a few seconds. It is so unbelievably tender and sweet. I cherish it! Alissa is a warm and huggy child also, but her signals are different. She starts by asking me questions. “How are you feeling mommy?”, “Can I get you anything mommy?” “Are you okay mommy?” and then she always ends with a hug and an “I love you mommy”. She is very maternal. But the greatest part about all of this, once their moment of fear is over. It is right back to “Mommy can you do this for me, Mommy can you do that for me?, Mom, Alissa is annoying me, tell her to get out of my room.” And again, all is right with the world. And I am back to figuring out the plans for the next few days.

In terms of scheduling around my chemo, I have decided to do the therapy every 3 weeks. That way I always have about a week or a week and a half of feeling okay. So what that chemo will go past my 50th Birthday. I will get more cheek to cheek’s with my son and more “mommy I love you'”s from my daughter. (something that I hear happens less as girls get closer to the teen years).
I hope it will give me more to talk to all of you about! Root for the cubs tonight (my son’s team that is)

Have a great day!

Carol
@funnycancermom

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Memories


I have so many vivid memories. Sometimes is is a simple whiff of something that triggers the rerun in my head. I am sometimes sitting and watching 2 people interact, and a memory comes flooding back…This often happens when I see obvious 1st or blind dates…My PAINFUL memories hit me as hard as some of those dates were to take…

Sometimes a flavor can bring back a meal or an event that centered around food (which is almost my whole life). For example, the other day we had chinese food for dinner. At the end, while reading the fortune cookies, a memory flashed in my head from when I was 16. I had just “enjoyed my first kiss” from a boy named Cliff Levy. I had been over the moon about it all day, and had mistakenly told my mother about it (who of course secretly told my father about it). When the fortune cookies came we read them out loud, as we always did. My brothers had some place to be so they were annoyingly in a hurry. We all read our fortunes except my Dad, he was like “Wait, this doesn’t make any sense. This must be for you Carol.” “Why what does it say?” I ask….”You will soon fall over a CLIFF!” he says with a huge smile ..”.MOM!.”, I yelled and ran out of the restaurant. It makes me smile know, but boy was I pissed then.

Sometimes when I watch my twins fight, I remember my brothers and I going at it. For similar “idiotic” reasons. But still, as they fight I find that I drift off to re live one of our beauties, that usually ended in me storming out of a room and my brothers calling me annoying or calling me a baby. How great were they! Memories are fun sometimes…They bring a smile to my face, most of the time. But there are the few that make me wince…Those are the ones I had hoped I would never have to visit again. Not in in my head and certainly not in real life…

Somehow this weekend I was not feeling great. I got a little cold that made me feel just generally YUCKY!!! And, even though it is spring, yesterday felt like a February. Alll day I was freeing. I was dressed for the weather. Sweatshirt, sweatpants, heavy socks, etc. At 1 point I looked down at the sweatshirt I was wearing (it was black) to notice a lot of blonde hair all over it. I went into the bathroom to take a look in the mirror, and thankfully all looked fine. With a sigh of relief, I brushed my fingers through my hair. There it was, a clump of my hair. It had begun, and the memories flooded back. These are memories I wanted to keep looked up forever. These memories are attached to some pretty strong emotions, ones that are attached to some pretty thick tears. Truthfully, having cancer at 20 is a blur…but the memory loosing my hair s the exact opposite; it is so precise and exact. Unfortunately I can re tell every moment of that day, as it happened. I think that is true for most chemo patients.

I know, Hair grows back, styles are ever changing, yet loosing it is probably the worst part of this whole thing. Truthfully the protocol I am on is only supposed to thin your hair, but I seem to be extreme on many side affects, so it appears that I may do more than just thin. I can’t explain what it is exactly about loosing my hair that makes it so brutal, but that is how I felt. My friend Meredith may have captured it. With my hair I can still walk around, and no one has to know that I am sick. But without hair it is like wearing a big Scarlet C!!! C for cancer, get it…see how I tied that all together there. Tricky eh!

Anyway, I have been thinking about it all day: I could react the same as before, or I can try and find another way to deal with loosing my hair. So I went online and typed in Bald Women of distinction….Okay, wrong approach. Have you seen Sinead O’Connor lately..OY!.not so hot. But then their is Demi Moore in GI Jane — but I don’t have her body, so that didn’t work. Cause that just makes me feel fat; oh and then there is Natalie Portman, but she was portraying a sick girl, so that really defeats the purpose. So why are there no “Cancer Survivor” role models. He wait Mark Burnett, there is your new reality series. “Survivor: Chemo Therapy” Who needs to travel to exotic islands to try and survive the elements.

And by the way, why is that when I loose the hair on my head, I never loose that annoying 1 hair on my chin. The one that is now as strong as steel wool? Riddle me that Batman! But back to the decision at hand, I have a nice shaped head, so I may be okay. But just in case, I have an appointment at Bitz and Pieces next week. I plan on trying on every possible hairstyle I ever wanted to have. From a Beehive to a mullet, From Lucille Ball to Rapunzel and every color of hair in the rainbow. Why not, let’s have some fun with it….This time I hope to do it my way! And not to be weight obsessed, but how much do you think hair weighs?

Remember what the rabbit said: Hair today, Gone tomorrow!!!

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I Compare Therefore I am


Do you ever find yourself using comparisons to clarify “your present situation” what ever it is. I compare, I justify, and then I decide. It is my version of the zen practice of “I think therefore I am”. And let’s face it — that is just a load of Hooey! I could think I am a size 4, and even starve myself from now until next tuesday, and I still wouldn’t be a size 4. Frankly I haven’t seen a single digit dress size since…Oh yeah that memory thing is kicking in again.

I do use comparison’s in every part of my life though. These days I do find myself comparing how different my days would be, if only I didn’t have Cancer. I mean prior to my surgery, my days consisted of cooking, cleaning, shopping (for food that is) picking up or dropping off dry cleaning, chauffering my kids between sporting events, school, orthodontist, tutor, and dance; and thne coming home making dinner for my husband, serve, clean-up help the kids with homework, and then sit down and have a glass of wine. Now, after the surgery and during treatment, I ONLY HAVE TO do the cooking, cleaning, shopping (for food that is) picking up or dropping off dry cleaning, chauffering my kids between sporting events, school, orthodontist, tutor, and dance; and thne coming home making dinner for my husband, serve, clean-up help the kids with homework. THANK GOODNESS I DON’T HAVE TO DRINK THE WINE ANYMORE!

But that is a general comparison. Sometimes I get more specific. Like, for example, the other morning, after getting my kids ready and off to school, I was meeting friends for our usual morning stroll (That is pretty much our pace)! I began to think about what mornings are like in other homes. Because in my home just getting the kids out the door should become an Olympic Sporting event; that’s because this seemingly benign daily activity usually leaves me, sweating, exhausted, tense, and ready to collapse after the kids finally leave the house.. My kids suffer from that chronic childhood disease called “I’m 11 and I don’t move FASTi-itis!” I think, nay, I compare, myself to the other mom’s I am meeting. They also have more than 1 child, yet I picture them as super women. Because by the time we meet (anywhere between 8:30i and 9) they have already cleaned the breakfast dishes, made the beds, and thrown a load of wash into the machine; while I, in that same short time, was lucky enough to walk into the bathroom and brush my teeth, and wipe the toothpaste of the corners of my mouth. I guess it’s all about setting expectations….maybe I set my bar a little to low, or is that all of my friends are just over achievers…

I also, unfairly, compare my husband to others. I often hear my friends speak of their husbands prowess in the kitchen…you know what I mean…they cook, and they do so every night…again, let’s keep the focus on food! Then a few of these men are also good at the “handyman” household duties. My husband…Not so much! I cook, and yes, I am good at the handyman kind of stuff, also. So again, I compare. But here I know I come out ahead…because for all of his deficiencies, my man is an exceptionally supportive husband for me and great Dad for the kids. But damn it! I still wish he could whip up a Rib Roast a jus and potatoes. Remember it is food that feeds the soul, and a way to women’s heart is through her stomach isn’t it!!

Many of you have emailed, or commented on my spirit, and drive, which I do believe helps me tremendously. My friends and family are really what keeps my spirits and my outlook up and alive. As I try to do in my blog, my friends also help me try to find the funny in all situations; and believe me they do. An example of this is a story told to me by one of my dearest friends. (hopefully she will not be mad at me for re-telling it.) In here story she found the funny….cause sometimes life is bland…but she made it not so bland by making it funny — And that is what is so inspirational to me!!! My friends can take the not so exciting and not so spectular, and make it fun, exciting and enjoyable…Anyway the story goes like this:

My friend has a cousin that lives in Colorado. Every so often her cousin sends out an email to her family just keeping everyone up to date with what is going on in her life. You see, this women is an a trained avalanche rescue worker, and trains her dogs also in Avalanche rescue techniques. The woman is part of a team that travels on these exciting, dangerous and unbelievable missions. Often recanting them in her emails. My friend, like myself, would read such an email with joy, respect and admiration for this woman. And, like myself, she would then briefly compare her cousins exciting life to that of our own, and subconsciously justify how we got where we are. (but honestly, not justification needed) But here is where my inspiration comes from…my friend thoughtfully, and carefully drafted and sent her response. With that simple sense of pride in how we spend our days she wrote “Well, you think that’s something? THIS WEEK TOMATOES ARE ON SALE AT STOP AND SHOP!”!”

What a great outlook.. I admit, even though I tell this story so much, I still laugh at my firends response!

At the end of day there are still the unanswered comparisons – the ones I think of every night…in the dark…before floating off to sleep…like – How will it be for me this time around? Is it easier or harder dealing with cancer when I am older? How is my life with cancer different now as opposed to when I was 20? I do know that when I was 20, I was to young and to stupid to realize I was dealing with a potentially fatal disease. At 20 I felt I was invincible! Today, I am not so young, I definitely don’t feel invincible, but what I am now is determined. Determined not to let this stupid f***ing disease bother me, determined to continue my active life of Laundry, Food Shopping, and Cleaning, and even more determined to find the humor in all things I do…Even things that don’t trend funny. We are who we are! And by comparison…I am still doin’ okay!
And frankly who really wants to compare it anyway!!!!

Have a great day…and just laugh!!!!

Carol
@funnycancermom

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Can I optimize the terms of my Chemo Protocol? I don’t see why not!


So I have begun to think about my next treatment. It is only 1 week away. I know that in my first post I mentioned that I would like to speed up the treatments over the summer, while my kids are away. I think that is called optimization in today’s “business lingo”. So tomorrow when I go in for my pre treatment blood tests, I plan to sit with the Doctor and negotiate my terms for optimization of my chemo protocol.

Frankly I envision her either laughing at me so hard that she falls of her little round twirly stool, or she will just look at me wondering if I need a psych consult. Probably the later, since who in their right mind would think that Chemo Therapy protocols are negotiable. But if you think about it really, their is a small (ever so small) speck of rationale behind my thinking.

Years ago who would ever think that you could negotiate a better price for a classic Black Patent Chanel Handbag, or with a surgeon because you are willing to pay him in cash, or even negotiate with a college/university to pay less for your child’s tuition. These day’s I find that you can negotiate almost anything. Now it maybe a chemical reaction they are looking for with these drugs, but I still say PSSHAW! Well I really don’t, cause who really uses that word with a straight face. But you get my meaning, I hope. I have not been the typical patient yet. Not my disease, not the cause, not the outcome. Just ask my magnificent surgeon…Andrew Ashikari. Nothing about me has fit into the “book” of cancer’s, so why should my treatment?

Now not to boast, but I think I come from a family of “supremely gifted” negotiators; and I hope that I picked up a thing or two. Certainly my skills were somewhat stunted when I was younger. Being the youngest of 3 children (I have 2 older brothers), I learned the necessity of negotiating at a young age. My training started when I was 3. All I wanted to do was play with my brothers and their friends. While i did get to play with them, they still won the negotiations. They would give me like five minutes of play time as long as I would take the blame for some idiotic thing they were about to do. Like use crayons in catapults and shoot them against the newly painted white walls. My brother Andy, was truly the most gifted negotiator — and still is; he once traded me to his friend for a brand new baseball glove. It took my mother 4 hours to get my whereabouts out of him. After all it was an incredible glove!

As I got older, my skills still didn’t match up to my brothers.. Some how I spent a year doing the dishes every night (a chore that was supposed to be rotated), It wasn’t until after college, that my skills began to emerge. I had had a job as an assistant talent agent, at one of the largest commercial agencies of the time. Unfortunately, the 6 month Screen Actors Guild strike caused me to seek other employment for awhile. My idea was to be a Bartender – though I had no skills. I applied for several positions, obviously lying about my previous experience, and was offered 1. I had to trail an existing bartender for 2 shifts and then I was on my own. I told the bartender the truth about my experience, and negotiated my way in. “If you train me, I will give you all the tips from these two shifts plus my 1st solo shift. DEAL”, he said…and for the next 8 months I worked at 2 of the hottest bars on Columbus Avenue…Frankly making way more money than I ever did and having way more fun than I ever did.

But that all brings me back to My chemo negotiations, I have my sites set on being done with chemo by the end of August. I turn 50 in September, and I so want this behind me by then. The only way to do that is by going every two weeks, not every three weeks So if it is just a matter of getting extra tired, or queasy – so be it! I have no kids at home. Really it is my husband that will suffer the most. Our alone summers have been so romantic and enjoyable. Men, it is always about them and their needs isn’t it?

I guess there is always the chance that the reason I can’t do every two weeks is because of a chemical reaction, but since I haven’t had a normal reaction to anything else yet…why should my cells be any different. Anyway, I only hope my negotiations will

Practice Negotiations at the Wax Museum

work. But I guess if it doesn’t I can always try to send my brothers in to negotiate for me.

Talk to you all soon.

Carol
@funnycancermom

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